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Five Years Is A Long Time To Lose Everything

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Awaiting Response

 

Dark Lord,

 

I survived, despite the odds- is there a chance that you might have, too? Arcann had kept me in Carbonite in his trophy room for all of these years, so I still hold on to the thought that perhaps you have shared my fate, after all, it is not an unlikely conclusion that if I was considered a commendable trophy for the vaults merely in striking down his father, then why not the Dark Lord who sparked the resistance against him? But I ramble on unnecessary topics. I imagine that you would be glad to know that Lana Beniko was the one who orchestrated my rescue- and whilst successful, we are not in any position to return to the city centre and attempt a second rescue for you. In truth, I have not yet entertained the idea to Lana as of yet- we need time to recuperate, especially considering the damage and chaos we had inflicted on the city in our escape. But you need not stress, we will return.

 

Either way, we have much to talk about the next time we meet, and I wait.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox
Subject: Carbonite

Dark Lord,

A disquieting thought had occurred to me since I had sent you that last message: when I was frozen, the process was done so poorly that my body underwent Carbonite poisoning that threatened to destroy me over the process of five years. You have the disadvantage of needing to recover from Valkorion’s attempt of your life, on top of your own freezing being done equally as poorly as mine.

I am no medical droid, but I will do my best.

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Rescue

 

Dark Lord,

 

The rescue will take longer than I anticipated, I fear. The damage the ship took was incredible, and now we are stuck in the middle of an aptly named Endless Swamp, with Vortena using this as an opportunity to complain about the destruction of his ship, whilst Lana responds with challenging his legal ownership of it.

 

Realistically, we should be out of the swamp within a couple of days, once I can persuade everyone to cooperate. However, I know that emotionally I will have aged the five years that I missed by then.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Lana and Koth

 

Dark Lord,

 

Is this how you felt in the Dark Council meetings where Darth Ravage and I fought over every miniscule detail that never truly mattered?

 

If so, I owe you (and the rest of the Dark Council) an apology, and perhaps a few drinks.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Gravestone

 

Dark Lord,

 

A ship has been located. It cannot fly, but it is still more functional than the previous ship (So Vortena says, but he has been claiming that our actions have been the will of Destiny, so I have opted to ignore his assessments). It is overrun by the fauna and flora, it is missing many components, and the meagre crew that we have is far too small to be able to manage it perfectly. I find that this is an unsatisfactory report.

 

I am more concerned that is it called Gravestone.

 

In any case, once we are able to repair it to a satisfactory state, I will see to it that we will storm the city and find out where Arcann has been keeping you. There is a medical bay on the Gravestone, so we will see what can be done to remove the Carbonite poisoning and repair what damage Valkorion had done.

 

We will succeed, for the sake of our Empire.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: “Bodyguard” Droids

 

Dark Lord,

 

I cannot fault HK-55 in his services. I complain of a distinct lack of crew to operate a machine as complex as the Gravestone, and he finds me willing volunteers to assist in this regard. Granted, they are Zakuulan refugees with naught but fear, that fear made stronger by the threat of HK-55’s assault gun, but nonetheless, they make an obedient crew. Before you called me away, I was investigating a lost shipment of Czerka-built assassin droids that was lost on Belsavis during the Great Galactic War, with the personal goal of rebuilding one of my own from scrap left behind in previous battles.

 

I can say with certainty that there is an appeal to having just a singular assassin droid at your disposal, so the option of having an army of such does present a strategic opportunity. But we are so very far from our Empire, and time is a requirement when I am participating on such expeditions.

 

But I suppose there was always a reason I’ve liked droids; they will not decay to nothingness if we take time elsewhere.

 

I know that you do not have that option, so I must work fast.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Facts

 

Dark Lord,

 

Everyone seems so determined to believe that you are dead, I feel as if I am the only person who can see.

 

We will start with the facts. Valkorion struck you down. Arcann cut my bonds and attempted to kill Valkorion. Then he struck Arcann with the same power. I cut down the Emperor, I saw Arcann stand, in pain, but stand nonetheless, from where he was downed. And then I remembered nothing more.

                                                                                         

These are the statements that all of us working on the Gravestone can agree on, regardless of our knowledge, upbringing or origins. Now, I do not have the proper research or facilities to understand why Arcann freed me, nor why he would have attacked at such a poor time, or why we were placed as trophies rather than being killed outright, but I can only make speculations that contribute to nothing, after all, I am the Dark Lord in charge of the Sphere of Ancient Knowledge, and not the Sphere of Mysteries.

 

But I am veering this conversation elsewhere than I intended. What I had meant to say is that Arcann is nothing to you, so of course, you must have survived. After all, I did, and I cannot be alone.

 

I wrote that last line before realising the implications and the truth of it.

 

I must go.

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Continuation.

 

Dark Lord,

 

Forgive the abrupt finish to my last message, the Gravestone had undergone an attack from Arcann’s forces.

 

I wish I could say that was the worst of the interruption, however Koth and Lana have appeared to have started bickering once again.

 

The matter is this: one of Lana’s contacts have joined us in the opposition amid the battle, and I was rather pleased to note that the new recruit has a remarkable proficiency in the Force, and fights excellently against the Skytroopers sent after us. She assisted me in lifting the ship off the ground, and has a wit and stoic demeanour that I find familiar to our own people. Koth has taken offence at Senya, however, for the simple fact that she defected from her position within the Zakuulan Knights collective in order to aid us. While I do understand the discomfort of working alongside a person who represented an organisation that you despise, I do think that we managed it perfectly on Yavin 4, and even in our final moments together on your ship, which had forces merged from multiple parts of the galaxy.

 

One would think that commandeering an army comprised of conflicting values would have been more difficult than convincing three individuals to place apart their differences for a moment while we were trying to abandon the swamp for stable ground.

 

Laugh at my expense. I too would find this amusing were I not so occupied with more pressing matters.

 

I will get back to you.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Truth

 

Dark Lord,

 

I have not admitted to my ship that I still write to you, nor that I wait diligently for a reply. They have made their views clear repetitively that they believe you dead, and nothing I may produce could convince them otherwise.

 

Is it false to say that I can still feel you in the Force?

 

I am not imagining it. It is faint, as if I had just caught a glimpse of you in my peripheral vision, stepping into a corridor, or to the engine room, but I know with a startling certainty that I am seeing you. I do not need to study your mask or armour to know the shapes and details, nor the presence that you bring. This is the proof I have that you are still in the Force, even if Lana does not see it. Perhaps I was wrong in the thought that you are frozen in Carbonite, the more I think of it the more determined I am in my resolution that you may have escaped far sooner than I have, and got yourself off-world to a safe location until you could heal yourself from the barrage of lightning that Valkorion lay upon you. Maybe you do not have access to these messages yet, until you can reach a safe point with a semblance of usable technology. Perhaps you do have access to my letters, but just can’t reply yet, not until the time is right.

 

Congratulations are in order, Darth Marr. You have found yourself in a safe location where not even Lana can sense you, despite how closely we have all worked together over previous missions. You’ve hidden yourself in plain sight. Not many Sith can hold that claim to their being. But you’ve not hidden yourself well enough, my friend, the colours and senses you leave behind when I glimpse you are strong, almost enough to convince me that you are in the ship with me, and all I need to do is turn around and face you at last. I’ve mentioned to Lana about this thought, but her sentiments are often of the opinion that my insistence on not sleeping at all is unhealthy and creates hallucinations or vivid imaginings. But how could I sleep, after all, we must all be alert, and I am powerful enough that I can replace the energy gained for a full night’s rest with the Force.

 

But it does not matter.

 

Because I know that you are alive.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Brothers

 

Dark Lord,

 

I think of my companions often.

 

Not of the ones that I must make do with now, but the crew I had amassed before I had taken Thanaton’s mantle- I have not received word of their whereabouts, or if they had made it back to the Empire when I sent them away when we were certain of our deaths. One would think that a crew consisting of two apprentices (one of which a fallen Jedi), a Dashade, a pirate and an archaeologist in a Sith Lord’s ship would garner some gossip over the years, but it appears that they had seemingly disappeared off the radar.

 

My archaeologist, Talos Drellik, has been occupying my mind especially of late. Or rather, one of our conversations have.

 

He has (had?) a brother who exhibited skill in the Force. I only mention this to you because I was told that you personally selected him to attend Korriban Academy to be trained. Apparently the father, Moff Drellik, had high hopes for the brother, before communications were severed.

 

What became of him?

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Companionship

 

Dark Lord,

 

Asylum seems to be a merge of Rishi and Belsavis; I cannot quite place my finger as on why on the latter. My chosen companions as of late are always Senya or HK-55- Theron and Lana are constantly hiding and revealing secrets and reservations about the other’s chosen company or choices, and I grow quite tired of their constant bickering. Senya, on one hand, at least knows how to deal with children, and HK-55 offers amusing comments and an unbridled enthusiasm for murder that I can appreciate.

 

I only write this so that you know that your temporary retirement from action has led to my constant headache.

 

Vortena’s rather boisterous crew have been picked up, one of their number being Sergeant Ralo, another contributor to my pain. I did not recognise him without the Republic uniform, but he was determined to speak his accusations regarding the choice that we both made to crash the ship. I told him it was the right choice, if a difficult one. It was the right choice, wasn’t it? You agreed with me then, so it must have been. You can answer me when we next meet, I am sure. You are isolated on a distant planet, aren’t you? Will I find you on Asylum, hidden in Arcann’s shadow, gathering the information you need before you strike? Or are you closer to our Empire, or the Core Worlds, regaining strength or forces, and my messages are a source of amusement as you hear updates on the clashes between my followers. Perhaps you cannot reply because you cannot risk Valkorion knowing. Either way, I can wait. I can be patient when I need to be, and circumstances call for me to be such.

 

For now, I will let you be the strength of our Empire. I will come to you.

 

Darth Nox

 

 

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Makeb

 

Dark Lord,

 

I think of our time on Makeb. It was an odd mission you had shared with me, so orchestrated that the support team you had gathered did not know my identity prior to meeting, on a planet with a determination to work against us. Hutts had grown bold, and the only ones operating fully were you, from another place in the galaxy, and me. Too many of our own had died on that mission, and I had made decisions that killed more than what was necessary, I feel. At the time, it felt like it was the only route I could take, to secure the planet’s resources for our own, and to gain what the Hutt Cartel had learnt in so short a time- but in hindsight, I cannot be too sure. Given enough time, I will question life itself, so sure is my need for answers and certainty. I do not like uncertainty.

 

The Empire hates the Emperor for the destruction of Ziost.

 

But did I not do the same to Makeb?

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Asylum

 

Dark Lord,

 

I know why I felt as if this place was akin to Belsavis. It has the same pains as a prison, and all hopes of a better life come here to die. It reeks of desperation and fear, much like a rotting Rancor corpse.

 

So, naturally, we will likely have to stay here long.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Mystics

 

Dark Lord,

 

I am sure the Scions are just Mystics with a personal ambition of angering me. They claim that they want to help us rebuild and resist the armies of Arcann, and yet they insist on placing me in a farce of a trial to prove my worth. How many times am I supposed to prove that I am competent, and know what I am doing? That I know the price of freedom and the payment of strangled lives that it thirsts on, I know all of those things, I’ve lived them. I know the cost of freedom.

 

Freedom is being reborn after a lifetime of chains, servitude and fear, and there is no price too high to pay for it.

 

Heskal insults me, but I’m told I need his support. Why? They tell their prophecies, they are out to claim Arcann’s blood to replace the people they lost, but they are not willing to listen to reason. He is exactly like Valkorion, in that I despise him more than I loathe myself for leaving you in whatever dangers you might be facing, because I do fear that you may still be in Carbonite, or that Arcann is descending his forces upon you, or that I was completely wrong, and you will suffer the consequences of my brashness. Please tell me that I’m wrong.

 

He made me fight visions in the likeness of you.

 

I’m not sure if I can find it within myself to forgive him.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Names

 

Dark Lord,

 

I have only laughed once at your expense, and even so the means I had gained the knowledge was accidental.

 

When I first joined the Council, I had opted to locate transcripts and summaries of previous meetings so that I could have context and understanding for future assemblies- after all, I have never been a member of any similar group, and I do not like to fail. I am going off topic. Curiosity led me to seek out the meeting that I joined, not out of vanity or the like, but the need to know what my new peers thought of me, to know what impression I made, to know who I could rely or trust. My initial goals were discarded to the Force, however, when I read the entirety of the meeting. I did not know that five minutes before I kicked down the door for my own dramatic entrance, you were all subjected to Darth Baras claiming that he was the Emperor’s voice, not his apprentice, and Darth Vowran’s participation in the show. You were all given a seat to watch a dying actor try to convince his strongest allies that his word was to be obeyed, try to rally some imagined forces to kill his apprentice. And fail.

 

And yet Darth Thanaton, who watched this, revelled in the show, thought that it was plenty motivation to stand and give his own speech on how the Dark Council, who refused Baras’ plea for help, should help him destroy me, a supposed nobody? I only wish I could have seen your reaction to an inspired Thanaton standing up and pouring out his heart for his peers to see. I could not praise him on his situational awareness, but he had courage.

 

I’m not sure when was the last time I had laughed so hard at reading that. I only know that I hadn’t since.

 

But I remember Darth Ravage’s opposition to me taking Darth Thanaton’s place, despite me proving victorious in the battle- that I was merely a lord, a disgraced apprentice, many words that I do not care to remember now while matters are so pressing. You silenced him by naming me Darth Nox.

 

I silenced many people with that name after.

 

Did you know what that meant to me?

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: I’m Sorry

 

Dark Lord,

 

Too much has been revealed at once. I know Senya’s connection in all this, her reasons for fighting alongside us- and now everyone knows my truth in return. Senya’s truth is that she is the mother of Arcann and Vaylin.

 

Mine is that the Emperor lives. Inside my mind.

 

Forgive me.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Secrets

 

Darth Marr,

 

The Emperor is not dead.

 

I did cut down his body, that much is certain, however the spirit is a resolute being, and he kept himself alive by residing in the nearest host, which was me. I apologise for withholding this information for so long, in truth, I did not want you to feel that we have failed in our mission, because we have not, I assure you. I know that I can survive this ordeal, of having a ghost possess and expose all of my memories and vulnerabilities.

 

I will explain that last statement another time. Perhaps when we meet, at your consent.

 

Perhaps it is better that Valkorion chose me as a vessel rather than you. His body may have been destroyed, but the maliciousness of his spirit has not, and it torments me with visions and ghosts in the likeness of our citizens, of Thanaton and Zash, that I must cut down lest my mind be destroyed. I will admit that it is not the first time I had experienced such- I have dealt with vengeful spirits in my head before, and I had left the ordeal stronger. Valkorion plagues me with these images, and he torments me with one I had not experienced before: he delights with whispers done in the likeness of you, and feeds off the pain that it causes when I have to cut my way forward. I feel as if I should apologise for all the times I have had to do this, even though I know they weren’t really you. This is why I have chosen to never sleep again, not until I can remove his presence from my head- if I have to turn myself into a weapon to protect myself, then so be it.

 

I’m not sure if it matters, anyway, if you are really in carbonite, or hidden away until you can reach somewhere safe, then you would not be able to read these until you are next able. But I feel that I have uncovered a secret of yours when I mentioned that I could feel you in the Force, so maybe it was right that I reveal part of a secret of mine.

 

I have not betrayed you, I’ve never wanted this.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Insomnia

 

Dark Lord,

 

Valkorian… has grown more persistent in making me fight your shadows since I wrote to you last.

 

I forget that he has access to my thoughts and memories while we share a mind, and I detest him for it- although he has become more creative in his tortures, rather than waiting until I sleep, which I do not, he forces me to a state of semi consciousness to control what I see and what I must fight- for me, my consciousness is being ripped apart at the seams, resewn to create something foul and horrendous, an imitation of nothing concrete, while a threat to everything I hold dear.

 

I will be stronger, though. I just need to keep myself even more awake. I cannot vouch for what the aftereffects would be, but I never wanted to fight you, or your likeness.

 

I don’t think I could.

 

Darth Nox

Chapter Text

From: Darth Nox

Subject: Freedom

 

Dark Lord,

 

I am going back to one of the Zakuulan cities. Not the same sector where I was imprisoned, but to the hidden parts filled with criminals. That’s fine. We’re supposed to be finding a person by the moniker of “Lady of Sorrows”, who seems to have expressed interest in us, or at least the Gravestone.

 

I will be on my own mission. I’ll find you.

 

Darth Nox